Day 1 Metagame Breakdown

Posted in Event Coverage on August 30, 2003

By Josh Bennett

Five hundred and eighty-eight decklists is a lot of data, and our tireless scientists (with ample help from Star City Games's own deck scribe extraordinaire, Ben Bleiweiss) have worked to condense it into something that makes sense. It seems like the first impressions have proven correct, with Wake and Goblins stealing the top two spots in the metagame. Taken together, the Goblin decks number one hundred and twenty-two, fully seventeen more than the hated control players. However, their numbers are divided neatly between straight-up Goblins and Goblin-Bidding. Blue-Green is another popular choice, and from there the diversity of the field really starts to show itself. With most players gunning for Wake, will it be hated out of the Top 8, or is it really as powerful as is publicly surmised? Only time will tell. Until then, enjoy a healthy diet of numbers and descriptions.

Wake – 95

Mirari's Wake
Numerically first although dwarfed by the number of red men in attendance, Wake is Public Enemy #1. It's numbers aren't as dominating as at Worlds, which may be a signal that the hype is dying down, and the hate is taking hold. Against creature decks it boasts an exciting array of Wraths, Fogs and countermagic, and against control it has card drawing and Compulsion, as well as Upheaval post-board. Cunning Wish provides a catch-all solution. The kill comes thanks to Soldiers bolstered by Mirari's Wake, usually endstep at instant speed.

Blue-Green Madness – 69

The suppsed foil to all those Peaces and Wraths is Blue-Green Madness. It can pack the same kind of explosive punch as Goblins, but adds the utter corruption of Circular Logic. There are some that claim that the nuts blue-green draw is unbeatable except by extreme measures. The classic burglar that undermines the whole package is the mana base. Islands and forests don't like to play together, and players can practically count on dropping a match because their mana refused to co-operate. Still, therre's a lot of power there, and it's easy to build. It's no surprise it continues to put up the numbers.

Goblin Bidding – 68

The great thing about Goblin Bidding is how much like Goblins it is. Very little in the way of speed is sacrificed to add the Bidding contingency plan. Not only is Bidding a great way to recover from Wrath, but add in a Warchief and it also means ridiculous beatdown. It can also ladle out the damage thanks to the interaction between Goblin Sharpshooter and either Goblin Sledder or Skirk Prospector. And let's not forget Siege-Gang Commander. Sometimes, Bidding is just plain ridiculous. Now, of those sixty-eight, eighteen are playing the Burning Wish version, championed by Seth Burn at World Championships. Moving Bidding to the board makes for less clunky draws.

Goblins – 54

If you listen to Jordan Berkowitz and Zvi Mowshowitz, it's not even close. Mono-red Goblins are the way to go. Playing slightly fewer men, and more burn, mono-red goes to the head with a quickness. Some run the much-maligned Blistering Firecat, but Berkowitz takes things a step further and runs Sulfuric Vortex in the main. Goblins has its opponent on the clock already, so adding a second ticker is usually enough to make the opponent roll over. Just watch out for Transcendence.

Reanimator – 32

Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Who doesn't want to play with the fattest creatures around? What greater joy is there than serving to the dome with Akroma, or flashing back Cabal Therapy by sacrificing Symbiotic Wurm and removing all hope from your opponent? Reanimator does all that and more. Burning Wish gives the deck a virtual fourteen reanimation spells, between Zombify, Stitch Together and Doomed Necromancer, as well as giving the deck more Buried Alives. In a pinch, it also give the deck a bit of a toolbox. If it can outrace the Goblins, it might make a big splash.

Red-white Slide – 29

Although Gabe Walls insists that red-green-white Slide is a superior deck (going so far as to say that he'd have won this Grand Prix if only he'd had the courage to play it), players are adding a few cards to their block-constructed decks and coming to game at the standard tables. Creature decks, beware! This deck has Wraths to spare, and Slide to protect its biggest threats.

Zombies – 28

Most of these were straight-up mono-black aggro decks, packing the usual efficient threats, point removal, and Cabal Therapies. Some players tweaked the mighty Cabal Interrogator to the main in anticipation of a Wake-heavy metagame, but the two-mana 1/1 might not be up to snuff in the faster matchups. Six of them ran the Bidding, and adjusted their creature-base to better take advantage. A couple touched blue for Shadowmage Infiltrators and Mana Leaks.

Red-Green Beats – 28

Ah red-green. Seems like only yesterday it was the deck everyone was afraid of. Not so hyped anymore, red-green still boasts the power of Wild Mongrel and Elephant Guide, along with the hitting stick that is Phantom Centaur. A suite of burn rounds things out. The real question is, does it have the speed to beat Wake?

Black-White Decree – 27

Decree of Justice
It's entirely possible that Kibler himself convinced twenty-six other players to run his take on Gabriel Nassif's "Decree Dot Deck". The smiling poster boy will bend the ear of anyone who will listen about how good his deck is, even against the mighty Wake. It certainly has creatures wrapped up in a nice little package, with Edicts, Smothers, Wraths and Akroma's Vengeances. Skeletal Scrying and Undead Gladiator give it some draw power, and Eternal Dragon and Decree of Justice mop things up.

Mono-Black Control – 23

The loss of Compost seems to have brought the black decks back, although they're not the same near-creatureless decks that ruled standard a while back. Now boasting a few utility creatures and the littlest Necro, Graveborn Muse. Blackmail proves a surprisingly sound Duress replacement. Nantuko Shade can end the game early or late.

Cemetary Decks – 14

Most of these are of the black-green variety that took Canadian Nationals, later refined by black-green specialist Sol Malka. A few brave souls tried to take it mono-black, but the lack of Living Wish might prove too much.

Land Destruction – 9

Yes you read it right, Land Destruction.

Blue-White Control – 8

Jon Sonne's Worlds deck is back, and Eugene Harvey has given it his seal of approval. Standstill is often an early-game Ancestral, and if it goes unbroken later can prove fatal thanks to a cycled Decree of Justice.

Burning Bridge – 8

Ensnaring Bridge
This deck has quietly done well at Pro Tour Qualifiers for some time, but never seems to crack the big time. Ensnaring Bridge is crippling against many decks, though.

White-Green Beatdown – 7

Gabriel Nassif has jumped ship to this interesting number, a white-green deck filled with beaters (including the returning Savannah Lions) and Glory.

Miscellaneous - 89

Including such hits as Mono-White Control, Elves, Punisher, White Weenie, CounterBurn (PTR and Huey, on a lark), Clerics, Dragonstorm, Beasts, and a whole host of others. And if you needed further proof of the death of Tog, only one player showed up with Dr. Teeth in their deckbox.

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